New interlock ignition law coming in 2023 to help first-time DUI offenders — and protect the public

By Shanila Kabir

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — A new law is underway to help first time DUI offenders in Hawaii.

Act 94 allows offenders to shorten the time of their driver’s license suspension, if they show proof they are using the interlock ignition system in their car continuously for six to nine months. The interlock device will prevent drivers from starting their cars if alcohol is detected in their systems.

“Since the law went into effect, people with alcohol in their system have been prevented from starting their car 128,600 times as of last week. That’s a very impressive number because every one of those attempts when you’re drinking could’ve cost someone their life,” said Arkie Koehl, MADD Hawaii public policy committee member.

The law also strengthens the rules against tampering with the interlock — like tampering with the lens and failing to provide a picture to the Department of Transportation.

“This is a great advantage…You can drive as much as you want legally, as long as you drive sober. In fact, you can continue drinking if want if you don’t get behind the wheel of your car,” said Koehl.

Theresa Paulette from “Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii” said this gives first time offenders the chance to change their behavior.

“As a person who lost a loved one to a six-time repeat offender, I and all the other victims I talked to want anything that works to remove drunk and drugged drivers off our roads, and interlock ignitions definitely work,” said Paulette.

According to the Department of Transportation, DUI arrests in Hawaii decreased slightly over the past decade. Around 3,583 drivers were arrested for drinking and driving this year in 2020.

Experts are hopeful the ignition interlock device will continue to help lower those numbers.

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